Despite all the talk about the swelling ranks of people with dementia in Japan and what to do with them, there has been little discussion so far about housing designs that meet their needs.

But a care home recently built by major developer Tokyu Land Corp. in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward could turn the tide. It aims to harness the power of design to help people with dementia keep their independence longer and maintain their dignity better.

For its Setagaya Nakamachi project, a care home and adjacent condos, the developer enlisted the help of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling in Britain, which has researched "dementia-friendly" building design for more than 25 years. The 75-unit care home is the first project outside the U.K. to be accredited by the organization.